#7–Charukesi-The Raga Close to the Heart

Charukesi  , the 26th melakartha  raga  which belongs to Bana Chakra(the 5th Chakra) is an exotic and intriguing raga that invokes a meditative mood. This raga clearly brings out  the flavours of  Sringara (Romance), Soka (Sorrow), Saantha (Tranquil, Peace) and  Bhakthi Rasa (devotion)with equal felicity. It can also   be said that the raga essentially conveys the feeling of  “nenjai urukkum “ quality . Charukesi rejuvenates the mind helping one to age gracefully. It enlivens the singer and listener.  This raga is suitable for singing at all times.

In Mind, Body and Soul Chakra Chakra 5 is the spirit Chakra:  This chakra is located between the Solar Plexus and the Heart and is the energy center that contacts, and gets guidance from  heavenly bodies. Charukesi give relief from heart ailments.  Hence it is said that Charukesi is  a raga close to the heart.

It is also known as “Tarangini” in the “Dikshitar Asampoorna Mela System.  Charukesi is usually referred to as combination of Sankarabharanam and Thodi.  The first half (purvanga) has the swaras of Sankarabharanam and the second half (uttaranga) has the swaras of Thodi. But the transition of first half to the second  is very graceful and not mechanical.

Charukesi  has the following Arohana and Avarohanam.

Arohanam: S R2 G3 M1 P D1 N2 S

Avarohanam : S N2 D1 P M1 G3 R2 S

(chathusruthi rishabham, anthara gandharam, shuddha madhyamam, shuddha dhaivatham, kaisiki nishadham)

The major notes of the scale in this raga  gives it a personality of strength only to be followed with the minor notes D1 and N2 which gives a touch of softness and kindness that show limitless delicate potential.

Rishabham is the Jeeva Swaram and the Nyasa Swaram for this raga.

Prayogas – pdndpgr –  srgmgrns – pdpnd – rgmg rsd  – pdsrg  mggrr srgmgrsrgrs -grrsrns

Famous Compositions

Although the Raaga has been handled by almost all the famous Carnatic music composers, Adamodi Galade by Saint Thyagaraja and Kripaya paalaya sowray by Maharaja Swathi Thirunaal are popular. Charukesi is a Raaga whose intricate structure is more visible and understood in the Anupallavi part of a Krithi (the higher octave of the Raaga exposition) giving a feel of a Himalayan glacier. Krithis of Thyagaraja are not manthra-s recited in temples. They are excellent musical tabloids which never age, on the contrary they mature with age. The more one sings them , one discovers everytime a new luminescence, a new shallow, a fresh freedom. What exactly has made these compositions unique? Is it the Sahitya(lyric), the satvik  music ( pious melody),  the message or the grammer?  Whatever be the factor, the entire composition will ultimately  lead  the singer/listener to extreme divinity.“Hey Surano Chandrabha” is a famous Abhang in this Raag which is ery soulful.

Lalgudi Jayram’s most famous Pada Varnam composition Varnam in this raag “Innam Manam Ariyadhe  means “Oh Lord Dont you know my mind yet”  in this particular raga  is an examplory blend of raga, bhava, rhythm and lyrical beauty. The unique feature about Lalgudi is that his music is very expressive.   This is one of my favourites simply because it lends itself to be danced to in the classical style .  ML Vasantha Kumari singing  Ada Modi Galathe is an all time enchanting classic.

Classical Compositions:

Innam en (varnam)-Lalgudi G. Jayaraman
Adamodi -Thyagaraja
Kripaya palaya – Swati Tirunal
Ayiram ayiram -Ambujam Krishna
Mayil meedhu -Calcutta Gurumurthy

Filmy Favourite

No one can deny the fact that Chaarukesi was more popularized by M.K.Thyagaraja Bhaagawadhar, with his evergreen melody hit Manmadha leelaiyai venraar vundo in the film Haridas The success of the song, `Manmatha leelayai’ sung by MKT confirms Charukesi’s poetic and phonetic vitality. `Aadal Kaaneero’ in “Madurai Veeran,” `Vasanthamullai pole,’ `Adal Kalaye Devan Thandadu’ in the film Sri Ragavendra, `Unakkum Enakkum Isaindha Porutham’ (of Ramalinga Adigal) are some of the hit songs in Charukesi. But…the modern cine lovers will understand and cherish Chaarukesi only with Kaadhalin deepam onru in Thanbikki endha ooru, a Rajinikaanth super hit movie.

Charukesi is definitely A.R.R’s favourite raga. Among recent songs,’Udhaya udhaya’ song from tamil movie “Udhaya”, a mesmerizing song based on Charukesi raaga. One of the best composition of A.R.Rahman which definitely is everyone’s favourite. Another A.R.Rahman composition ‘edho edho ondru’ from the tamil movie “enakku 20 unakku 18”. This song is a nice melody and has a nice flavour of charukesi raagam.

It is interesting to note that most of the Krithis and film songs mentioned here have substantial period of sustenance in the higher octave. For example, Manmadha leelaiyai begins in a higher octave note and swirls around higher notes; Nadanthaai Vaazhi Kaaveri also has its beginning in a higher octave note and Kaadhala Kaadhala goes as high as the panchamam. As usual Charukeshi has been used by Bollywood in recent movies such as Swades.

Illayaraja – Tamil

Aadal Kalayae –  Sri Raghavendra (what a song !)
Amma Nee Sumandha –  Annaiyor Aalayam
Arumbagi Mottaagi  – Enga Ooru Kavalkaaran
Chinnanjiru Kiliye  – Mundhaanai Mudichu
Kadhalin Deepam Ondru  – Thambikku Entha Ooru
Manamaalayum Manjalum – Vathiyaar Veetu Pillai
Mayanginen Solla Thayanginen –  Naane Raja Naane Manthiri
Nallathor Veenai Seithe –  Marubadiyum
Nandhavanam –  illam
Petha Manasu  – Enna Petha Rasa (taking carnatic music to the masses)
Sakkara Katti Sakkara Katti Ullae Veliye
Siriya Paravai –  Andha Oru Nimidam
Thoodhu Selvadharadi  – Singaravelan
Uyire Uyirin Oliye –  En Bommukkutti Ammavukku
Vaanathila Velli Ratham – Enga Ooru Maapilla

Raveendran – Malayalam

Hey Krishna-Kizhakkunaraum Pakshi-Raveendran

I conclude this review by saying that  Chaarukesi  is a very soulful raga having  a universal appeal with her charming  beauty. She  induces a soft mood but kindles deep rooted subtle emotions. Charukesi is capable of holding the listener in an enthralling appeal with it’s simple arrangement of swaras and great emotional impact .   Charukesi is known to incite feelings of pathos and devotion in the listener.

Featured Composition

Ragam: Charukesi
Talam: Adi
Composer – Thyagaraja


Adamodi Galade Ramayya Maata

Meaning : Oh ! Raama.. Why the haughtiness ?  Please talk to me!.


Thodunida Nive Yanuchu Bhaktito
Gudina  Nee Paadamu Battina Naato Maata

Meaning :  To me, who considers You a shadow-like constant companion, is devoted towards You, and has touched Your feet, Why the haughtiness ?  Please talk to me!.


Chaduvulanni Delisi Shankaraantshu Dai
Sadayu Daasuga Sambhavudu Mrokka
Kadalu Tammuni Balka Jesitivi Gaakanu
Tyaagaraaje Paati Maata

Meaning: When the erudite Anjaneya saluted you, O Merciful one, You asked your younger brother to listen and convey his narrations. Why then be indifferent to Thyagraja who addresses you?

Enjoy Charukesi to your Heart’s content by downloading it here 🙂

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10 thoughts on “#7–Charukesi-The Raga Close to the Heart

    • Namaste Komala,

      I don’t know why this concept of understanding a raga with a combination of two ragas came into existence. It may be important and a guideline for somebody who is a beginner, but i would like to mention scale is not raga. Scale is used to only identify a raga.

      For eg, the guy wearing red shirt is Rama, but red shirt is not Rama. Shirt is only used for identity and does not speak about the person. Similarly scale is like a shirt used to identify a raga but the characteristic of the raga is much much beyond the scale.

      Hence understanding Charukeshi as Shankarabharanam and Thodi, Bhavapriya as thodi with M2 would not be ideal.

    • Yes! Chārukéshi sounds like an amalgamation of shankarabaranam and shanmughapriya… Atleast the moods of the above ragas are touched but pure Charu has a slightly touch of Hindustani flavour.

  1. Charukesi is epitome of Raagas… Few more additions
    1. Oliyaga vandhaai (ambikapathi aka raanjanaa) that fricking transition from aahirbairavi to charukesi (rasoollaah) is a killer
    2. I movie BGM in china, amazing transitions to charukesi
    3. Indian Movie … maaya machindra BGM1
    4. Roja Roja song from Kadalar dinam…
    oh yes, rahman’s affair with charukesi is public now.. I love the way he handles this raaga…

    But the most surprising song came from our ripper Harris Jeyraj

    Nenjil Nenjil idho idho is the best Charukesi composition without much of pollutant raaga or notes… loved the BGM 1

  2. Engenge engenge.. from nerukku ner! hariharan and asha bosle! composed by deva! Charukesi.. she just shines there.. ❤

  3. Good write up. The songs ” Nenjirukkum varai ninaivirukkum in the film Rani Samyuktha” by KVM, “Vara solladi avanai vara solladi (film Padhukappu) by MSV” and “Moondru Tamizh Thondriyadhum (film Pillaiyo Pillai) by MSV, “Nadandhai vaazhi kaveri” (film Agathiyar) by Kunnakudi Vaidhyanathan , “Kulavum thendral(film Kodeeswaran) music by S V Venkataraman and “Neeye Gadhi Easwari” (Annaiyin Anai) by S M Subbaiah Naidu are also nice “CHARUKESIS” but not mentioned in many write ups on film songs in Charukesi.

  4. Some songs by MSV : 1. Mangala mangaiyum (Neelavanam)(essence of the raga Charukesi, bhava wise the love and unpronounce melancholy in equal measure is so beautifully encapsulated in the song., 2. Azhagiya tamizh magal ival(a different interpretation of the raga), 3. Sonnalum sonnaradi (film Nee another excellent flow of the raga), 4. Varanum varanum (Enga ooru Raja), 5. Agayathil thottil katti (Thunive Thunai), 6.Thalaivi Thalaivi (Mogana punnagai) 7. Muthu tharagai (Oru Kai osai ) 8. Ammamma keladi thozhi (Karuppu panam) 9. Minimini poochigal (Bharatha vilas) and a few more by IR … 1. Manamalaiyum manjalum(nice one) (film Vadhyar veettu pillai) 2. Siriya paravai (Andha oru nimidam) are also nice Charukesis, but little disucssed.

  5. The selection of chaarukESi for aaDamODi:

    tyagaraja chose chaarukESi raagam in the introduction between hanuman and raama. Besides the well-known meaning of the aaDamODi galaDE raamayya, the raaga selection for this song is unique.

    It is often mentioned that raama is an aarya, belonging to north India. He comes across hanuma while in search of seeta. hanuma is considered to be from south India.

    SankarabharaNam is said to have originated from north India, while tODi is known as hanumattOdi.

    The arOhaNam of chaarukeSi is S R2 G3 M1 P D1 N2 S and its reverse is avarOhaNam.

    The structure of this raagam is a combination of (dheera) SankaraabharaNam and (hanumat) tODi, as can be seen in the aarOhaNam of each raagam as given below. The avarOhaNam, of course, is the reverse of it.

    dheera SankaraabharaNam S R2 G3 M1 P D2 N3 S
    chaarukESi S R2 G3 M1 P D1 N2 S
    hanumat tODi S R1 G2 M1 P D1 N2 S

    The first half of the aarOhaNam of chaarukESi is from SankaraabharaNam, while the second half represents tODi.

    The union of raama and hanuma are beautifully embedded into this raagam. In the charaNam of aaDamOdi, Tyaagaraaja describes hanuma as SankaraamSudu, meaning Sankara is contained in hanuma. Thus, the content of SankaraabharaNa swaras in chaarukESi is even more justifiable for this song.

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